Retired parole officer discusses youth crime prevention, shares tips for parents and grandparents

HOUSTON – Four teenagers, all ages 16 and younger, have been charged in the murder of Houston gas station and convenience store clerk, Steven Mendoza.

“If I got the opportunity to go and sit with just one of them my question would be why,” Daphine Jack said.

Mendoza was a beloved father, husband, and friend. He was shot and killed while working the overnight shift at a gas station near Hobby Airport on March 20.

“I have to take a breath on that one. Because all you can think about at 14 was that ninth grade and 16, 11th grade, maybe becoming a senior. Now the rest of their life is ruined by making a decision. You just never know what that child is going through until you see their background. Peer pressure. One or two of those guys might have been influenced by just one of them. But the fact that it was two 14 and two 16. So it’s something with that one. That’s interesting. But they might have been friends since childhood. But it’s just, you don’t really know where to start. The only thing that I can think of is having that preventative measure before. Being able to get the community involved,” Jack said.

Instead of focusing on the crime, KPRC 2′s Re’Chelle Turner sat down with a retired parole officer who spoke about prevention and ways the community can get involved.

Daphine Jack has helped plenty of children and teens get back on track through her nonprofit organization, Prevention Zone Inc. It’s not an easy task, but Mrs. Jack stresses the importance of the community getting involved.

“As they say, it takes a village. Where is the village,” Jack said.

So, you’re talking community leaders, police, deputies, state lawmakers?

“They need to all be in this community together,” Mrs. Jack said.

What is some advice for parents or grandparents if they see that their child is kind of going down this bad path? What can they do? Is there anything they can say?

“These kids are different these days. It’s a whole new breed of children. And it’s like being able to have a dialogue, talking to them. Have a dialogue talking to them. You know, and then you might get something that says, I don’t feel like talking. Well, when they say that, you need to dig a little deeper. Why don’t you feel like talking? And then there comes when you can reach out to someone else, because kids have a tendency, you know, like if you have a kid and you’ve been telling this kid, and then I come along saying the same thing, they’ll be like, oh, that makes sense. And you’ll be like, that’s what I just said. But to hear from someone else would probably make a difference. The average kid, you don’t know what, where’s their mom, where’s their dad, where are these four boys, where are their parents? And so, we want to be able to help those kids along the way,” Jack said.

Give me some examples of what you have been able to teach from others.

“Teaching them about how important it is not to get caught up in statistics. They see what’s going on in the world and how people are having to suffer. Who would want to go and sit up in a jail,” she said.

On June 24, Prevention Zone Inc. is hosting a charity golf tournament that will help bless kids with incarcerated parents. To register and learn more about the event, click here.

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Emmy award-winning journalist born and raised in Alabama. College football fanatic and snow cone lover! Passionate about connecting with the community to find stories that matter.

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